In Matt's blog the other day he spoke of the tendency to focus too much on heaven and the life to come. Likewise, there are people consumed with watching for the end times. It has been used to strike fear into unbelievers and to guilt sinners into repentance. And, our culture's media has done a great job of reducing end-time believers into sign holding lunatics who walk the streets ranting and raving of what's to come. For me, personally, that has caused me to swing the other way, to not think of it much at all, and focus on Jesus' words that tell us that no one knows the day or hour that all of this will occur (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36). However, neither is the right approach.
What are we to do with these signs given in Revelation 6? I believe that answer lies in the verses I referenced in the beginning of this blog. Jesus says to "watch out that no one deceives you," "Be Alert!," "Be on Guard," and "Watch!" Now my first thought was that this sort of behavior will have me way too focused on the end of the earth not the live on the earth. But Jesus doesn't say that this is the only thing we are to do, he says "watch" and "be alert". I can best equate this with being a mom. There are times in my children's life where I have obsessed with their safety at the pool or a park, focusing only on them to the extreme. At the end of that trip, I am exhausted and are left empty of great experiences with my children. I think most of us would agree that this doesn't mean I send little ones off by themselves to encounter the world alone and hope for the best. As with anything, there is balance. I try to experience, enjoy and live out moments with my children, while still aware of their presence--watching them to make sure they are accounted for and safe.
I believe that's what Jesus is trying to get us to do. Live our lives with an awareness of what is to come. Be watching for deception and know that a time will come when life on earth will be excruciatingly difficult; knowing what's to come allows us to prep for that. And, I believe, does help take away complacency. Being alert and on guard is an action. It requires us to be aware of something other than ourselves.